On a recent fishing trip with a group of politically conservative friends, we found ourselves lamenting the societal insanity that has evolved around the covid-19 virus. The question was, how long will this massive over-reaction to a low-octane viral illness continue? Half of the group admitted to continuing to wear their masks when going into stores, simply to avoid being hassled. This struck me as rather sheep-like behavior. Most citizens are used to listening to, and following the advice of their local officials, a natural pattern of behavior which helps maintain the general order of society. This virus, which due to its occult origin, originally appeared potentially disastrous, is in reality, very pedestrian in its lethality. It has however, succeeded in bringing out the inner tyrant in many state and local officials. The demand that masks be worn, despite the fact that they are little more than a talisman against an invisible boogey man, has created a degree of compliance in the population unlike anything since the legitimate threats of polio or the Spanish flu.
It is a universal truth that tyrants never cede their power willingly. For most of us, ‘sic semper tyrannis’ is not a good solution if one wishes to continue the course of one’s life. One might rob the tyrant of his, but it’s likely to be accomplished at the cost of one’s own life or liberty. Simple civil disobedience has been shown to be effective when many participate, but it too is often injurious to one’s liberty.
Many years ago, I worked for one of the giant American corporations that inhaled management philosophies like hits from a bong. In the mind of upper management, each new inhalation was sure to provide magic visions to cure all the ills of the business. I took to calling it ‘panacea du jour’. One hot philosophy in the early 1980s was called ‘leadership by example’. In practice, it consisted of putting hard hats on the managers and making them pretend to be workers. Someone exhaled, and the vision was gone. But the core concept will work for us in our present circumstance.
When you go into a store or other enclosed area that demands you wear a mask, do not. Simply go in, go about your business not as if you were dancing naked in public, rather you are treating the mask-less condition as entirely normal (as it should be). Be courteous, be pleasant and smile. I even sing along to whatever background music is being played in the background. You will get a lot of ugly looks from the karens around you. But when they glower, smile back. You will notice something that you may not have anticipated. Some of the masked individuals will look at you with obvious jealousy. For those few who also choose to not wear a mask, give them a wink and thumbs up. You have now assumed the mantle of leadership. Will you be in trouble? Nope. You have a trump card, HIPAA. The tyrants of the 1990s planted the seeds of their own destruction by making it illegal to demand details of your medical condition. On the off chance of a real confrontation, you have two magic words, ‘medical exemption’. A medical exemption means that you don’t have to wear a mask. The nature of your medical condition cannot be demanded by local authorities. HIPAA is over-riding federal law. States may in fact add to HIPAA law provisions, but cannot subtract from it in a way that forces you to reveal information.
If you choose a leadership position as outlined here, there are no absolute guarantees of personal safety from rogue tyrants or the fists of the ultra-aggrieved. But the tiny tyrants’ taste of dictatorial powers has intoxicated them and they will not swear off its sweet succor without our help.